Are Dirt Bikes High Maintenance? Here’s the Truth


One of the most common questions I often hear from those still deciding to get into dirt biking is, are dirt bikes high-maintenance?

And it makes sense, especially when you’re still considering getting into the dirt bike game.

Because let’s be honest – no rider wants to deal with maintenance ALL the time.

Contrary to popular belief, dirt bikes are NOT high-maintenance.

They only require more regular maintenance than other vehicles, given the type of riding they endure.

Dirt bikes are designed to handle rough terrain, jumps, and turns, so they need more frequent checks and adjustments to keep them running smoothly and safely.

Anyway, I’ll cut to the chase and get into the truth behind dirt bike maintenance so you can decide whether dirt bikes are for you.

Spoiler alert: they are.

Are dirt bikes high-maintenance?

Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio

Some people think dirt bikes are high maintenance, but that’s not always true.

It depends on a few things, like:

  • Your engine type – Two-strokes are simple and cheap to fix but need more oil and air filter changes. Four-strokes are more complicated and costly to fix but use less gas.
  • Riding conditions – The more dirt, mud, sand, or water you see on your trails, the more you need to clean and oil your dirt bike. You also need to check your tires, brakes, chain, and suspension for any damage or wear from these things.
  • Riding style – The harder you ride, the more stress you put on your dirt bike. You must check your dirt bike for cracks, leaks, or loose parts before and after each ride. If you ride hard, you must change your fluids, spark plugs, and filters more often.
  • Age and condition of your bike – The older your dirt bike is, the more problems or breakdowns it might have. You must follow the manufacturer’s advice for servicing and fixing your dirt bike. 

While not high-maintenance, dirt bikes need more regular attention than other vehicles.

But they’re pretty easy to do.

You only need some basic tools and some time to do it.

Here are some of the things you should do regularly, mainly after every ride:

  • Clean the air filter 
  • Clean and adjust the chain
  • Check the tire pressure
  • Refilling or changing the engine oil
  • Lubricating cables and control pivots
  • Checking brake pads (and replacing brake fluids when needed)

Be sure to read my full guide on DIY Dirt Bike Maintenance.

Two-Stroke vs. Four-Stroke: Which is More High Maintenance?

Two-stroke dirt bikes are awesome.

They’re perfect for beginners because they’re simple, light, powerful, and easy to maintain.

Still, they need regular maintenance, although less frequent than with four-stroke bikes.

Four-stroke bikes are also fantastic, but they require more maintenance than two-stroke bikes since they have more parts that can get dirty or break, like valves, cams, and belts. 

If you ever need to rebuild a four-stroke engine, you’ll find it a bit more challenging.

You’re better off taking it to a pro if you’re not mechanically adept.

It might cost you more, but it’s worth it.

Don’t worry, though.

Some four-stroke bikes are low-maintenance and fun to ride, like the Yamaha TT-R230.

It’s got the power of a four-stroke engine and is simple to maintain.

How often do dirt bikes need maintenance?

It depends on a few things, like how and where you ride.

Here’s how I keep my dirt bike in top shape:

  • Oil change – I ride casually, so I change the dirt bike oil every 15 hours. If you race or ride hard, do it every 2 – 3 hours. And don’t forget the oil filter! It can get dirty fast, so refill or replace it every 3 to 4 hours.
  • Air filter – If you ride in dusty or muddy places, cleaning the air filter after every ride is a must. If you race or ride hard, you should also get a new air filter after every ride. It can get worn out and let dirt in your engine.
  • Chain maintenance – I clean and lube the chain after every ride, using a chain cleaner and a chain lube spray. This keeps the chain and sprockets from rusting and wearing out. I also regularly check the chain tension and alignment and adjust them when needed.
  • Brakes maintenance – I check my brake pads after every ride. If they’re too thin, swap them out. Also, check your brake fluid. If it’s low or dark, add some or change it. You should do this every two years or 10,000 km, or more if you brake a lot.
  • Tires maintenance – I always check my tire pressure before hitting the road. You should change it depending on where you’re going and the weather. Also, look at your tire tread. If it’s too worn out or damaged, get new tires.

How can I make my dirt bike last longer?

Aside from regular maintenance, here’s what I do to take care of my bike and make it last longer:

  • Stick to the maintenance schedule – It’s in your manual. Change the oil, clean the air filter, adjust the chain, replace the brake pads, etc. Do them always on time.
  • Use the recommended stuff – Good tools, suitable fluids, and good parts. Don’t go cheap or generic. Use what your manufacturer says or what other riders trust.
  • Wash your dirt bike often – Dirt, mud, sand, and water can mess up your bike, so wash your dirt bike after every ride. Use a hose, a brush, and some soap. Dry it well and lube it up to stop rust and corrosion.
  • Check your bike before and after every ride – Look for anything broken, loose, or flat. Fix it immediately, or take it to a pro if you don’t know how.
  • Don’t mess with your bike if you’re unsure what you’re doing – You could make it worse or lose your warranty. Let a pro handle it. 
  • Don’t ride in harsh conditions too often – It’s hard on your bike. It’s fun to push yourself, but mix up some easy rides, too.

Wrapping up

Dirt bikes are epic vehicles, but just like any vehicle, they also need maintenance.

Dirt bikes need more regular maintenance since they take the beating for us every time we ride. 

Don’t worry – dirt bike maintenance isn’t complicated.

Keep up with the basic routines I mentioned in this post, and you’ll be ready.

Remember, a happy dirt bike means a happy rider!